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  • Short Term Viking Invasion

    Hot on the heels of our national side being horsed by Norway, John Campbell reminds us of two Norwegians that we actually liked!

    In modern day football you will find that clubs are multi national in terms of their playing staff but back in the late 1970ís, overseas players were more the exception than the norm. To be fair, Dundee United and Greenock Morton had been importing players from Scandinavia with a degree of success and it was against the latter that Hibs fielder two young Norwegians, giving them their home debuts against the Greenock club in the second leg of a League Cup quarter final.

    Having lost the first leg 1-0 at Cappielow with the goal scored by Bobby Thompson, in a bruising encounter that saw Jackie McNamara sent off Hibs decided to give their loan signings a chance to impress the home crowd. Both Norwegians had signed just three month deals in order to both allow the club and the players to size each other up and for Hibs club secretary Cecil Graham to investigate what red tape would have to be negotiated should the deals look like becoming more permanent.

    Capped at Under 21 level by their country, both players clearly had a level of ability but they also had a rather bizarre preference as to how they travelled to Scotland. Despite Hibs sending tickets for a flight to Edinburgh the pair decided instead to arrive at Leith docks by boat! Perhaps it was the fisherman blood in them or maybe even a latter day friendly Viking invasion but whatever the reason both men took to the field in front of around 6,000 fans at Easter Road.

    Svein Mathisen had not only Under 21 honours but also seven full caps. A midfield player with a good eye for a pass he looked at home more or less right away in the Hibs engine room but it was ex Isak Refvik, a striker with Viking Stavanger that grabbed all the headlines by scoring both goals in the 2-0 win that carried Hibs into the semi final. The bustling little striker was a thorn in the flesh of the Morton defence from the word go and when he opened the scoring from close range in the 25th minute he celebrated in fine style by running to the east terracing with a huge smile on his face. His second came in 54 minutes and was quite special as he met a Ralph Callaghan cross on the volley and the ball flew past Connachan in the visitorsí goal. A late penalty award to Morton looked like it might spoil the night but Andy Ritchie, an immensely talented player who would win that seasonís Scottish Football Writers Player of the Year blasted the ball miles over the bar.

    Hibs were through and would meet Aberdeen in the semi but sadly lose out to a Stuart Kennedy goal. Revenge was exacted in the semi of the Scottish but Hibs would then go on to lose 3-2 to Rangers in a second replay. To add to that misery Hibs were relegated the following season but by that time the Norwegians were long gone, back home to Scandinavia when Hibs could not get work permits for them. The Home Office decreed that as neither had a sufficient number of full international caps they did not meet the criteria for gaining a work permit. Hibs Chairman Tom Hart was incensed by this and fought them long and hard, even having a question raised in the Commons but to no avail. A dispirited Refvik returned to Viking Stavanger and totted up more than 400 appearances for them whilst Mathisen joined IFK Start in Norway on a part time basis.

    Hibs: Mike McDonald, Arthur Duncan, Rab Kilgour, Des Bremner, Rikki Fleming, Jackie McNamara, Svein Mathisen, Ally MacLeod, Isak Refvik, Ralph Callachan and Tony Higgins

    Morton: Connaghan, Hayes, Holmes, Evans, Orr, Rooney, Russell, Miller, Thompson, Scott and Ritchie.
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